Finding Keepers by Kristi Strong


Genre: YA Contemporary
Release date: July 30th 2014
Purchase: Paperback | Kindle | Nook
Synopsis via Goodreads

Starting a new life is never easy, but Alyssa Doe has turned it into an art form. Abandoned by her parents at age ten, six years in foster care has taught Alyssa how to get through life the hard way.
Now sixteen and growing desperate for a stable life, Alyssa finds herself puzzled by her newest keeper, twenty-five year old Jessica Sona. A feisty woman who does not accept no for an answer, Jessica’s insistence and passion for safety, family, and unconditional love begin to break down Alyssa’s walls and bring her hope, a dangerous emotion.
Can such a thing as family and love exist for a girl whose birth name is Doe, or will Alyssa be forever left finding keepers?

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
Finding Keeepers is my first Young Adult novel, and centers around several months in the life of Alyssa Doe, a 16 year-old who was dropped off at school one day by her single mother and never picked up. The book begins six years after Alyssa has entered the foster care system, and shows how it has such an impact on her mentally, and how so many things revolve around what she has been through with various houses. However, this book isn't just about foster care, but teenage hardships in general. Through other characters in the book, a reader gets to feel what it's like to live with abuse, depression, and other emotions, as well as how hope and love can be found in the strangest of places.

What inspired you to write it?

This book actually started out as research for a different book, one where Alyssa was an adult. I needed to find a past for her that would explain why she was so distrustful of people, and very particular about her friends, and that led me to the foster care system. After being derailed from writing by several months of heartbreaking research, I realized that "teenage Alyssa" needed her story told as well, and this book grew out of that.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?

I knew that I wanted a door and a backpack in the cover, because Alyssa has lived in over ten homes over six years, and her backpack was the only constant item she carried with her, but other than that, I turned it over to the fabulous Donna Dull with Sharp Designs. She made it perfect for me and I would have been so lost without her talent.

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
Oh wow, that's a hard one! Emilia Clarke for Alyssa, because she has this haunting beauty, and she can look so vulnerable but so strong at the same time. Rachel McAdams for Jessica (Alyssa's current foster mother), and I'm not really sure on the other two main characters (Alyssa's friends Caleb and Brianna). I'll have to think about that one!

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
This is actually my first YA Contemp that I have ever written, and I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it (my other books are NA Fantasy). It's an entirely different ballgame working with an actual legal system, and teenage characters tend to have a mind of their own. I found myself surprised by the plot twists and scenes that developed in this book, and loved getting a chance to remind teens and adults alike that being a teen isn't all fun and games.

What made you want to become an author?
I always loved to write, and my mom still embarrasses me by bringing out the first "book" that I wrote in grade school (about a turkey who had to save his sister from the evil man hunting them). But it wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I finished a novel, and then was introduced to the world of self-publishing. Since then, it's been an amazing ride, and I look forward to the day that I can be a full-time author.

How do you come up with character names?

Many hours on baby name searches! Alyssa and Caleb are actually two of my favorite names ever, and the rest are somewhat random. I often start off the stories with "A said this" "B did this" and then when I come across a name that fits that character, edit the name into the manuscript.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
Just one? Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop. I have a paperback copy that is actually held together by a rubber band. Her fantasy novels have so many layers that you can read them over and over again and find something new each time.

Who, or what, inspires you?
People who don't give up, no matter what life has thrown at them. I get flustered and overwhelmed easily, and am awed by people who can be calm in the event of an emergency, or just dust themselves off when knocked in the dirt.

Where is your favourite place to write?

My office at home. I'm surrounded by my crafts, my books, and there's a bird nest right outside the window for when I just need to stare into space for a little while.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
Memoirs of a Geisha. It stayed fairly true to the book, and was just an exquisitely vivid and beautiful movie.
I LOVED that book and the movie, too!

Name two of your favourite authors.
Anne Bishop and the late Sarah Douglas

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?

Sarah Douglas for sure, and I'm not really sure who else. Her fantasy series are so complicated and so well-researched, that I'd love to pick her brains about how she keeps everything organized. Same thing with George R.R. Martin.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
My first time in any hospital was when I gave birth, even though I spent two decades in dance, gymnastics, riding horses, running competitively, getting a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and being a "rough and tumble" kind of kid.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
I would love if it would be Olivia Wilde (for the adult me at least, not sure on the teenager me)

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.

My city is the perfect blend of "big city fun" with "slow country living" and I love it. It also has a huge Civil War history.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I'm alternating between writing the "adult Alyssa" story, and the fourth book in the Land of Kaldalangra series. It's going to be slow-going though, because I'm also starting a very intensive 4-month course to get certified for a career change.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.

Going back to the Mediterranean. I lived in Kuwait when I was younger and we would take trips to Europe all the time, and I would love to experience the area as an adult instead of a 5 year old.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
I can't think of a specific one at the moment, but I love creation myths/stories from all cultures.

Who did you want to be when you were a kid?
Anyone who got to work with whales or dolphins

About the Author
Fixing broken computers, wrangling a very spirited little toddler, and creating new fantasy worlds are all parts of the average day for Kristi Strong. While she has called Virginia her home for two decades, her head has rested in two countries, three states, and far too many houses to count. She was more than happy to give up her nomadic lifestyle and settle down with her husband, daughter, cat and chinchilla.

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  1. Awesome interview! Thanks for participating :)

  2. This interview was so much fun :) Thanks for the interview and the post!


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